12Complex Frauds and Financial Crimes

Former Congressman Pleads Guilty to Helping Charitable Entity with Ties to Terrorist Organization1

On July 7, 2010, Mark Deli Siljander, a former U.S. congressman from Michigan, pleaded guilty in federal court to obstruction of justice and to acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), a charity with ties to international terrorism.

IARA, headquartered in Khartoum, Sudan, was a charitable organization formed in 1985 to raise donations in the United States to assist Africa in times of famine. The charity was closed in 2004, after the U.S. Treasury Department alleged that IARA had provided financial support for Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban. IARA had received support from USAID totaling $1.3 million for relief projects in Mali.

The indictment alleged that IARA engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with the former congressman to convert stolen USAID funds into payment on behalf of the charity. Co-defendants included Abdel Azim El-Siddig, of Chicago, Illinois, a former IARA fund-raiser, and Mubarak Hamed, the former executive director of IARA.

News sources suggest that Siljander, El Siddig, and Hamed knew that IARA was part of a large international organization and agreed to conceal Siljander’s efforts on IARA’s behalf. To accomplish the concealment, El Siddig and Hamed transferred $75,000 of IARA’s funds to Siljander through nonprofit entities.

This case was ...

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